Wednesday, June 6, 2012
26) Shaken, Not Stirred!
Elvis had it right. One can indeed be all shook up. This last lag of the flight takes me by surprise. It is akin to the biggest hill of the marathon that is saved for the last agonizing steps. Not that I'm complaining, but to have to be so embarrassed in front of so very many people was rather quite the surprise! San Francisco is experiencing sunset as I type from seat 2a on UA flight 6494. My window washer neglected mine in this cigar case, with its two seats down each side of the aisle. The camera works though, once Justin taught me how to remove the flash. The air is smooth. The jet is fast. The plane is packed. We should be there on time. It is the boarding that had me flummoxed. I've been trained by this Oz-going experience to get first-boarding privileges and to step into virtually empty planes. So when a jolly Gabriel the wheelchair attendant (truly his name!) fetched me from the gate, and then cleared me through an aside security door and next, Zoro's sword-like, wheeled me down a rugged series of outdoor metal switchbacks that would do any hiker justice, I thought they were going to put me away, hey, hey! But we break free at the bottom, scoot along the Tarmac toward the waiting jet, and I see these eight or so metal steps awaiting passage. 'At least there are railings,' I think. I know full well what's coming. The plane looks empty and just waiting for little old me to board. Good, I think, at least no one will see me when I get to the top, since neither stewardess nor purser are in sight. Assuring that my carry-case and chair will indeed be loaded and offloaded for me at the other end, I stand and manage not too much to shake and shiver with nerve pain by keeping my core muscles extra tight in front of the luggage handlers, my old chair pusher, the stair minders, and some six or seven people also waiting just for me to ascend. Good. So, free standing, I decide to make a goodly James Bond go of it and take those stairs like a marathon man, hauling myself up with absolute determination, gripping with both hands on the railings, and pulling myself along like lifting weights. And I step at last into the portal, yay! And then the big series of sword-stabs comes. Dang! So I've got my eyes closed and my mouth clamped lest people hear me say in a kind of indelicate swear something sinfully wicked and completely selfish like "oh my goodness, if only me dearest friend was here beside me now" and my body shakes and shivers with rather evident pain. My face, from what I've been told before, goes quite red with such exertions. I'm convinced it's from trying not to swear! My eyes I keep closed, the better to stay within, to calm the beleaguered psyche, and to focus on my breathing to get the body to accept. Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional. Ha! It's my mantra. And then I open my eyes. An entire aircraft, choc-a-bloc full of people, is watching me. "Oh my God," I exclaim aloud. And then, rather stupidly since the only vacant seat is very obvious, but five or so steps away from me, "Where is seat 2a?" Dead silence, staring at me. Some helpful hands indicate the vacant seat. A kind seat-mate gets up to let me past. I feel guilty. And then I process my passage. Ha! I wish I'd not said such an obvious thing: 'Oh my god!' Tisk, t'sk. What was I thinking? It would have been so much cooler just to yell, "O.M.G.!"